Do-or-die for Uganda U-19s

Wednesday October 06 2021
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Captain’s Innings. Baby Cricket Cranes captain Murungi drives down the ground during his beautiful half ton knock of 66 runs against Rwanda at Gahanga Stadium on Sunday. Photo | ICC

By Allan Darren Kyeyune

Uganda’s innings at the international cricket front have been long, with crucial painful spells and lately a slow-moving scoreboard.

The teenagers in the Baby Cricket Cranes’ team currently in Kigali, Rwanda have the power to impact the story of the game greatly in case they seal the only available continental ticket to the ICC U-19 Youth Cricket World Cup.

Coach Ivan Thawithemwira’s charges must first defeat Tanzania in the ‘tournament final’ and in that, they must usurp the Net Run Rate (1.560) of their East African neighbours to book a ticket to next year’s showpiece in West Indies.

Uganda emerged from the ruins of an opening seven-wicket loss to Namibia to produce successive unmatched batting spells which delivered 100 (Duckworth & Lewis Method) and 82-run respective wins over Rwanda and Nigeria to rise to second. 

Now on-level with Namibia (0.861) on points but with a better NRR of 1.292, the Cranes must smartly beat the mathematics when they meet unscathed Tanzania on a spin-favouring wicket at IPRC in Kicukiro, Kigali.

Story of permutations
Yet, Namibia, who lost to Tanzania by 48 runs, also can play themselves into the World Cup should they win and yield the best NRR against Nigeria at Gahanga. 

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“We are going to revise our position and plan to give ourselves a good chance. We’ll look at the permutations,” noted Thawi after right-arm off-break Joseph Baguma’s fiver (5/22) inspired his team to defend a score of 207 runs against the Nigerians at the Gahanga International Stadium on Monday.
“It put us back in contention so we are really happy with the result,” he said.

“The boys managed to balance all aspects of the game.” Opening bowler Akram Nsubuga (2/16) was equally economical in his 10-over spell. The Nigerian duo of Prosper Useni (45* ) and Victor Ipoli (23) scored 61 runs for the ninth-wicket but it could not alter the script. 

Earlier, Uganda’s openers Ronald Opio (30 off 46) and Ronald Lutaaya (22 off 54) had produced a solid partnership of 58 runs before skipper Pascal Murungi (38 off 44), Baguma (32 off 49) and Isaac Ategeka (22 off 38) took Uganda to a safe total. 

On Sunday at Gahanga, it is worth mentioning that Murungi (66 off 68) and Cyrus Kakuru (116 off 102) produced a batting master class in a 152-run partnership for the fifth wicket en route to a mammoth 311-9 against Rwanda. 

Tanzanian threat
With the ball, Baguma got 3/15 and two maidens in seven overs and Rwanda stopped at 62-4 in pursuit of 163 runs in 21 overs after D/L.

Against the Tanzanians, whose batsman Dhrumit Atul Mehta is ranked fifth-best with 80 runs from three innings and their slow left-arm orthodox bowler Maurice Nkanya leading with nine wickets, Thawi may need magic again from Kakuru’s bat or Baguma’s arm.

Murungi and company must also know that during similar qualifiers in Kenyan capital Nairobi in 2017, Uganda then under captain Kenneth Waiswa tied with the hosts after six matches only to lose a World Cup ticket to New Zealand via NRR. Wise men never forget their history nor their destiny!

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